Students do better on exams

January 18, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Fewer than one-fourth of Anne Arundel County's public schools met at least one standard for the 1994 Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) exams -- and that was an improvement over last year.

"We have more schools meeting the standards, and we have increased the number of schools that are close to meeting the standards," Superintendent Carol S. Parham said yesterday after the school-by-school report cards were released.

Twenty of 92 schools met at least one standard, up from 11 schools in 1993.

Dr. Parham also hailed the system's progress in keeping more black male students from dropping out of school. The dropout rate for those students decreased from 6.3 percent in 1993 to 5.68 percent in 1994.

"I'm really glad to see how well our African-American males are doing," Dr. Parham said. "But we can't rest; we must continue to make greater strides."

The MSPAP tests, given annually to students in grades three, five and eight, measure thinking and problem-solving skills. To meet a state standard in any subject, at least 70 percent of a schools' students must pass a given test. The tests are given in reading, math, social studies, science, writing and language usage.

In 1993, the base year against which all test results are measured, none of the middle schools met the standards for any tests.

Middle school students' scores remained a problem in 1994. Severna Park Middle was the only school where students met the standard for one test. That was in mathematics. In addition, nearly 70 percent of the Severna Park's students came close to meeting the standard for language usage. None of the remaining 13 middle schools met a standard, but five were close to meeting the standard in at least one subject.

Marley Middle had the lowest percentage of students -- 10 percent -- earning a satisfactory grade on the reading test. Central Middle had the highest percentage of students earning a passing grade on that test, 30.2 percent.

Among elementary schools, 19 of 78 met the standard in at least one subject in one grade.

Jones Elementary fifth-graders were the only elementary students in the county to meet standards in all six subjects in 1994: 78.9 percent passed the reading test; 94.7 percent passed the math test; 78.9 percent passed the social studies test; 89.5 percent passed the science test; 84.2 percent passed the writing test; and 89.5 percent passed the language usage test.

The Jones Elementary third-graders did not meet the state standard on any test, coming closest with 64 percent of third-graders passing the reading test.

Among third-graders countywide, children at Davidsonville and Mayo elementaries had the best performances. They met the minimum standard in four subjects.

Davidsonville students met the state standards in math, social studies, science and writing. At Mayo, the students met standards for math, science, writing and language usage. The Mayo students' scores in writing were the highest for third-graders, with 75 percent passing.

Among fifth-graders, students at Jones Elementary did the best on the writing test, with 84.2 percent passing. No Solley Elementary fifth-graders passed the writing test. "This isn't about being better than the next jurisdiction; this is about helping our children to achieve," said Dr. Parham.

"It's not a contest; it's a serious endeavor, and our students deserve a lot of credit for the effort they've put in to improving their scores, and our teachers deserve a lot of credit, too."

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